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Raspuzzi is wrong

Dear Editor,Perhaps the only thing more appalling than sports columnist Dawson Raspuzzi’s recent column, which condones steroid abuse, is your decision to keep him on the Spartan’s staff.

Does this guy think he’s Rush Limbaugh? Does he need to shock people with outrageous opinions just to have his voice heard? Is he not getting enough attention or something?

A person of any moral fortitude could not possibly believe that the harmful effects of steroid abuse should be ignored.

“…if players have accepted these risks on their own bodies, then I can too,” he writes.

OK, here is a perfect analogy: Society should legalize heroin because it is the individual addict’s choice to abuse the drug. The fact that the drug is addictive and unhealthful (steroids are both) does not matter.

Is this the kind of society Americans want to live in, though?

What about the hundreds of thousands of grammar school boys whose biggest goals in life are to play Major League Baseball? Professional athletes are role models – anyone who disagrees has never seen a boy who adores his favorite home run hitter. Raspuzzi thinks it’s OK to send the following message to these youngsters:

“Hey kids! Baseball is a great game and America’s pastime. But in reality, the only way you will ever fulfill your dream is to stick a needle into your skin, and cut years off of your life in doing so because of the liver damage and other violent effects of prolonged abuse! So here’s your syringe, kids! It’s time to become part of the level playing field. Let’s get the juice pumping!”

He sends that exact message by writing that professional athletes compete on a level playing field because most guys use steroids. It’s probably true that the majority of professional athletes have used steroids. The fact that they’re all doing it doesn’t make it OK, though. It is dangerous to think otherwise.

The support Raspuzzi provides for his position takes just as pathetic a tone as the message itself.

“You wouldn’t want to see a beauty pageant where none of the contestants are allowed to wear makeup, right?” he writes. He’s right. I know I wouldn’t watch it. But does makeup cause problems in the human reproductive system, or cancerous tumors?

Does nail polish pump false hormones into the body, causing liver damage? Last time I checked, the only way nail polish is harmful is when it’s inhaled. Both steroids and makeup are performance enhancers, yes. Raspuzzi ignores the fact that steroids are harmful, while makeup is not.

I can picture Raspuzzi’s next argument already: “Would you want to watch an infielder take ground balls without his glove? Well, a glove makes him field ground balls better, so technically, it’s a performance enhancer.”

Raspuzzi adds that people often complain that steroids have “ruined” sports. This is another falsehood. Just because people are concerned about athletes setting bad examples, does not mean people are turned off to sports in general. Baseball’s ratings are higher than ever, but this is not because of steroids, as Raspuzzi would have his readers believe.

It is because of series like both 2003 and 2004 ALCS. Both were epic battles fought between the two members of sports’ most heated rivalry: Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees. That’s what makes baseball great; not steroids.

People will never turn their backs on baseball because of the history of the game. Steroids put that pastime at risk by jading statistics in the record book.

A wonderfully fun part of baseball is comparing today’s players to players of the past. How can we compare Barry Bonds to his godfather Willy Mays? Had Mays used steroids, he might have hit 1,000 homers!

Raspuzzi writes that Babe Ruth would have abused steroids had they been around. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the time machine has yet to be invented. Who is Raspuzzi to determine which guys would or would not have used? It’s not as though every current athlete has used illegal performance enhancers. The guys who don’t are at a competitive disadvantage because of their smart decisions not to ruin their bodies.

I understand how a player falls into the trap; there’s a lot of money to be had on the free agent market. What I cannot understand is how a columnist, whose intentions are no nobler than to shock readers, can condone rampant steroid abuse in professional sports.

Raspuzzi is not cut out for sports journalism. He even contradicts himself by writing that guys should confess when they test positive.

His entire column talks about how players should be allowed to use steroids. If this is true, then why should drug tests be in place at all? Heck, let’s allow every American to do whatever he or she wants. Who cares about the repercussions?

I would ask that you please refrain from printing another Raspuzzi column. He is misinformed, and reflects poorly on your otherwise strong news outlet.

Sincerely,

John Keegan